When getting ready to move out, it’s really important that you follow a good moving checklist so that you have a much better chance of NOT failing to complete any of the many moving tasks that go hand in hand with a house move.
If you’re moving across the country and you’ve hired a professional moving company to haul all your worldly possessions to your new residence, then one thing you mustn’t forget to prepare and take with you is a box full of absolute essentials (an essentials box, also known as an Open-First box) that will help you survive the time interval until the rest of your belongings catch up with you.
So, what’s an essentials box? How to pack an Open First box when moving?
Here’s our guide to packing an essentials box when moving house so that you can switch into Survival Mode much easier on Moving day and the first few days in your new home.
Why pack an open-first box?
The idea of packing a box full of essentials comes from the fact that you’ll probably be stuck in limbo right after the move. Why? Because you’ll be separated from your belongings for an extended period of time. Your worldly possessions will be taken by the moving company you’ve hired and you may not get to see those items again for several days, or even a week or so in case of a cross-country move.
Provided that you’re using the services of a reputable, trustworthy, and registered moving company, you will get your household items safely delivered to your new address. Still, you’re going to need to make those few days in the new apartment or house more comfortable and manageable for you and your family.
And this is where an essentials box comes into play. One box, or a few boxes in most cases, should stay with you for the duration of the household move while all your other items get loaded into the moving trucked and hauled away in the direction of your new residence.
And when we say essential items, we do mean absolute essentials – lifesavers that you want to keep with you regardless whether you’re moving in-town, locally within the state, or crossing multiples state lines to reach your destination.
Important things to know when packing an Open First box
Sometimes it can be hard to know right away which items are truly essential and which ones you can manage without until the rest of your household items get delivered in accordance with the conditions of your moving contract.
That is why, we’ll offer you a moving essentials checklist below which you are advised to use in order to prepare your own moving survival box.
But before we get to the moving essentials list, let’s discuss a few fundamental things you need to know when packing an essentials box for a move.
- Last box to pack and load. Logically speaking, the box full of essential items should be the last one to pack and load into your own vehicle. Why? It’s simple: you’re going to need all those super-useful items until the very last moment. So, don’t close up and seal your Open Me First box until it’s time to leave your home for good. Keep in mind that, at any given moment, you should be able to take something out of it or add another essential item to it.
- Sort out your essentials from Day 1. At first, it may seem like an impossible task to go through all your belongings and sort out the ones that will go into just a handful of essentials boxes. But then, as you keep packing up your things into moving boxes, make sure you set aside the items that will go into your move survival kit. That way, you’ll keep them separated from the stuff that’s going to get loaded into the moving truck.
- Label it. It’s important to label your essentials box properly so that 1) you don’t mix it with your other regular boxes and get it loaded into the moving van by mistake, and 2) you can identify it immediately after you arrive in your new home.
- First box to unload and unpack. Since your Open First box contains items of absolute necessity – things that you’re going to need immediately after reaching your destination, that box should be the very first packing container you unload from your vehicle and then unpack.
- Your Open First box travels with you. It’s worth reminding you that your essentials box must stay with you during a long distance move when you will be separated with the rest of your everyday items for several days, at least. In case of a local move where you and your mover’s truck arrive at roughly the same time, you may entrust the Open Me First box to the movers but again, make sure it’s loaded last and unloaded first so that you get that instant access to your necessities.
What to pack in an open first box
To help you make up your mind what to put in your Open First box, here’s a detailed list of essentials you will most likely need during the move itself and immediately after arriving in your new home. The following ROOM-BY-ROOM move essentials checklist below will provide you with some good ideas about what your moving survival box should contain.
Yes, essentials boxes vary from family to family, and then from member to member. The rule of thumb is that each family member should have their own Open First box because your absolute essentials will differ from the ones of your spouse, and of course, from the ones of your kids.
Here are the must-haves you’ll want to pack in your essentials box from each and every room:
One thing is clear: you’re going to need basic toiletries and bathroom items the minute you enter the new house or apartment. Naturally, your first thought after making it to the new home will be to take a refreshing shower after the long and exhausting move day.
Make sure your Open Me First Box, sometimes referred to as a First Night box, include:
- Soap, shower gel and shampoo;
- Hair conditioner (optional);
- Toothpaste and toothbrush;
- Toilet paper (at least 2 rolls);
- Shower curtain;
- Bath mat (optional);
- Bath towels and washcloths;
- Essential cosmetics and personal care items;
- Hair dryer (optional);
Now that you know which one is the most important moving box, it’s time to add some super essential bedroom items.
Do not underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep! Once you get a shower, your thoughts will probably be focused on climbing on your bed and having that long-overdue rest after having survived the most exhausting day of the entire move.
As far as bedtime necessities, here’s what to pack in an essentials box when moving:
- Inflatable mattress (if there are no beds in the new home);
- Bedding and linen: sheets, pillow cases, pillows, blankets;
- Alarm clock (optional as your smartphone can be your trusted alarm clock);
- Night lamp (optional);
If you’re moving locally, then your movers can re-assemble or help you put together your bed on moving day itself. If you’re moving across the country, then your bed – should you have chosen to move it – will arrive with the rest of your household items. Don’t forget to pack up an air mattress if your residence is unfurnished and therefore no beds can be found in it.
In most relocation cases, cooking a decent home meal immediately after the move will be out of the questions due to the acute shortage of time, ingredients, suitable cookware, silverware, and last but not least – desire to cook at that particular moment of time.
Basically, your viable options will most likely be narrowed down to ordering pizza or some other take-out food. So, it’s important to have some basic kitchen utensils until the rest of the kitchen items make it to the new home.
Bottled water, coffee, tea or other beverages;
- Healthy snacks;
- Disposable paper plates and plastic utensils;
- Plastic cups;
- Kitchen knife;
- Can opener;
- Salt, pepper and sugar;
- Coffee maker (optional);
EXTRA: What else to pack in an essentials box
Now that you’ll remember to pack the absolute essential items from the three most significant rooms (BATHROOM, BEDROOM, KITCHEN), it’s time for you to add some other random must-have items to pack in your own Open First box.
- Medicine. You must pack any prescription medication you or any family member is using. Include general-purpose pain-killers, allergy medication, and vitamins. Pack a first-aid kit.
- Clothing and shoes. Packing a change of clothes for each family member is an excellent idea. Pay attention to the weather conditions and weather forecast in your new area for the next few days and pack accordingly. Pack also socks, underwear, and a pair of comfortable shoes.
- Cleaning supplies. It’s a good idea to have a number of basic cleaning supplies even if you’re moving into a brand-new place. Bring a few cleaning essentials such as all-purpose cleaners, floor cleaners, glass cleaners, strong disinfectant, dish soap, antibacterial wipes, a mop, a broom, a dustpan, and trash bags.
- Hand tools. Don’t forget to pack some basic hand tools in your essentials box as well. Some very useful tools include: a set of screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench, a flashlight and spare batteries, a pair of scissors, and a tape measure.
- Essentials for babies/kids. If you’re moving with babies or young children, then you’re going to need to pack a separate kids’ essentials box that will keep your little ones safe and happy throughout the move and during the first few days after that.
- Essentials for pets. Most animal pets get stressed out and scared when taken to a strange place. To help your pet feel safe, relaxed and comfortable throughout the move, make sure you pack their own essentials box full of favorite pet food, treats, toys, favorite blanket, and so on.
Miscellaneous essential items. When preparing an essentials box for moving, think about all the little things that you know you’re going to need even though most of them are not included in any example moving essentials checklists. Such specific essential items may include: electronics, chargers and adapters for your electronic devices, extension cords, books, games, and so on.
One final piece of advice: When packing your moving essentials box: don’t forget that all your important documents and small valuables (jewelry, for example) should also travel with you. Include such indispensable valuables in a special essentials box and never let it out of your sight no matter what.